The Shabbat Meal

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“One of the saddest features of modern life in the western world is the fragmentation of the family unit.  The quality of family ‘togetherness’ with mutual love, loyalty and respect, which was such a delightful quality of life some years ago, has almost disappeared.  Unfortunately many Christian families have also become victims of these modern phenomena.

When my wife and I lived in Israel, we noticed that this was not the case with most Jewish families.  They have retained family links, despite the onslaught of modern stress factors, which have torn other families apart.  Why is this?  We reached the conclusion that the weekly Sabbath (Shabbat) Meal is one obvious factor, which has helped preserve family unity.

The beautiful family gatherings, which are treasured every Friday evening, become a powerful focal point of fellowship.  Every family member endeavors to be present. Very often several generations are represented.  It is a time when one’s elders are shown respect and reverence and all the family members are able to share in a delightful meal, stimulating conversation and good clean fun.”  (Pastor Gerald Rowlands in Above Rubies 1989, No. 33)

We eat as a family every day, usually every meal.  This is partly due, of course, to all of our children still being young (the oldest is 11).  But, in good portion this is because being together is one of our values.  We have made a deliberate choice to make our lives home-centric.  My husband runs his own business and many times works from home.  When I teach childbirth classes (which is not all the time, but sometimes) it is from home.  We homebirth.  We homeschool.  We try not to be gone from the house more than twice, or at the most three days, a week–including church!  The other five days a week we are home all day.

So, eating together is nothing new for us.  We all sit down with a properly set table three meals a day.  We say grace together, we eat, we read a passage of Scripture and we close our time praying again.  So, when Nancy Campbell did a session at the Reformation of Food and The Family Conference on The Family Feast: How To Transform Meal Time Into A Feast For Body, Soul, and Spirit, I honestly did not expect to be so completely convicted and challenged to the degree I was.  To say I was moved is an understatement.

Thank you God, for the food before us, the friends beside us and the love between us.  Amen.

Among a host of inspirational things she shared in that session, was a bit about her family’s Shabbat meal every Friday evening.  She states without apology that “Meal time is the most powerful time of the day!”  

I listened carefully, took copious notes, and have already instituted a Shabbat meal into our weekly rhythms.  Mind you, we do it on Saturday evening, rather than Friday evening.  This is a matter of preference, because we strive to take Sunday as our day of rest.  Allow me to share how this has worked for us:

On Saturday morning I start the troops off with a hearty breakfast!  Then we set to work.  I set out cards with chores listed and everyone from Daddy and Mommy to the three year old work together!  (The baby gets a pass. *smile*)  We clean the house top-to-bottom.  The floors all get swept and mopped.  The bathrooms get a good thorough cleaning.  Sheets are changed.  Inside windows wiped clean of children’s fingerprints.  Even the dog gets a washing and brushing.  Yes, sirree!

If we all work diligently and without distraction we are pretty much done by lunch time.  (Isn’t that beautiful?!)   After lunch the little ones go down for their regular nap time.  And the big ones help me in the kitchen.  We not only have to prepare special dishes for the Shabbat Meal, but we also need to prepare food for Sunday.  By Saturday at Sunset we are ready to completely rest until Sunday at Sunset!  The house is clean and food is prepared!

Meg (my 11 year old daughter) has been my dedicated Challah maker.  We also need to prep main dishes and desserts!  It’s a hoot being in the kitchen with my kids!  We make messes, sure.  But, they are also learning to honor tradition, food, and work.  All lessons you can only truly learn by doing.

Israel (my 10 year old son) has been my table setter and arranger.  He has a gift for making things beautiful and pleasant to behold.  He gets it from his Daddy.  He sets the table, arranges the flowers, brings in the necessary chairs.

“You shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.”  Deuteronomy 14:26b

When we are done cooking, we all change clothes.  We don’t necessarily dress-up (although some of the kids do, simply because they love to use their dress clothes) but we are all clean and tidy for dinner.  Hey, I even put on some jewelry and do my make-up!

The Meal

When you choose to have your Shabbat Meal is up to you.  It can be Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, etc.  The important thing is that it signals a time of rest from your labors.  So, if you are doing it Sunday afternoon, make sure you choose a meal you can prepare on Saturday that reheats easily (and without drying out!) on Sunday.

The meal, I think, should be served in courses, so that you take your time eating it.  We have been doing the first course of bread (with hummus, butter, cheese) and wine, the second course of our main food, the third course of fruit and cheese, and the final course of dessert.  Each course is brought out from the kitchen, beautifully plated or in our best serving bowls.  It is something outside of our ordinary fare and everyone waits until everyone else is served before diving in!

Bouillabaisse, a French Soup with white fish, scallops and clams

The Rituals 

The meal begins with me lighting the candles.  Do you know why this is important?  Because a woman, Mary, brought the Light, Jesus, into the world.  In traditional Jewish Shabbats there are two candles representing Creation and Redemption or Remember and Observe.  My candelabra has three candles in it.  The kids say this stands for The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Then Gana reads Proverbs 31 aloud as a way to honor me.  Then he speaks a word of blessing over me and the children.  Then I speak a word of blessing back to Gana.  It’s good for children to hear their parents blessing and encouraging each other.  In our world of sarcasm, it’s good to “come in the opposite spirit” and speak words of blessings.

“Shabbat opens the atmosphere.”  -Nancy Campbell

Then it’s time for the bread and wine (juice for the children).  The bread, as I’ve mentioned, is Challah, which is traditional.  And we serve two loaves.  This represents the double portion the Lord provided for His people before the Sabbath.  In the wilderness, on the sixth day they had to gather a double portion, so that the Sabbath was a day of rest.

Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.  Isaiah 61:7

We each break off a piece of this bread and say together, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe,who brings forth for us the fruit of the earth!”  Then we all lift our glasses and say, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates for us the fruit of the vine!”  Then we all enjoy the bread (and the hummus, butter, cheese, etc.) and wine for a while.  I’ll say it again, WE TAKE OUR TIME!  What’s the hurry?!  This is what is signalling the beginning of our REST!  Why rush through it?

When we are done the bread and plates are cleared away (the kids each take a turn helping me do this) and the next course is served.  When each course is done, the dishes are cleared away and the new food brought out.

A Lavender Apricot Tart

We close our time in prayer of thanksgiving for all of God’s provision for us!

“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the LORD’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.”  Leviticus 23:2-3

Things to have on hand:

1. Candlesticks and candles

2. A white tablecloth and cloth napkins

3. Wine and/or grape juice

4. Two loaves of bread, preferably Challah.

5. Fresh flowers (If our yard isn’t currently producing many flowers, I pick up some at Farmer’s Market on Friday evening.)

6. Your Bible for the reading of Proverbs 31.

7. Lovely music to set the tone.

8. A heart at rest in Him.

(Linked to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways)


  1. So why start the day of rest with a bunch of dishes with each course? 😉

    • Some things are worth a little fuss. We love to make a big fuss over family time. More dishes to wash don’t bother us too much, because we do them together. 🙂

  2. michelle - August 1, 2012

    This is written with love, please understand me when I say; Please remember we must do Bible things Bible ways. God was the one who made the Sabbath and santificed it as Holy, we have to do it His way, not on the day we choose. Please read all of Isaiah chp 1 but mostly Isaiah 1:12-1:17. It says He doesn’t even hear our prayers when we are doing it our way and on our own day. It is His appointed time to be with us and our families, He comes to your house but you are running around on the true Sabbath getting ready and when you are ready on YOUR day, He is already gone. Please do not post this unless you are ok with it, I see no email to send this to and it is not my intention to say this in public, but in private. While it is appreciated that you want to reach other religions, The Sabbath is a God made day and if other people worship another God, then keeping the Sabbath for them will be of no use because they don’t worship God. I say this with the utmost love and respect from one Christian sister to another and apologize if this website is set up where it automatically posts comments without review first. Please do not hate the messenger, but I have only spoken what God says, as He is revealing lots of sins in my own life, no one is perfect except the Father (Amen), May God Bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

    • Thank you, Michelle, for your comment. Of course we don’t mind publishing it! We welcome discussion in the comments. So please feel free to keep reading and commenting!

      We are blessed to hear that you and your family observe the Sabbath Day. In our world of rush, rush, rush, it’s beautiful when a family takes the time to truly rest–honoring God and each other.

      We do, however, feel that the important thing is that one takes a Sabbath and that there are great rewards for observing a day of rest and worship, regardless of whether or not it meets the requirements of the law in the Old Testament. You are right that Isaiah speaks a good deal about the Sabbath. Yet, we must take the whole Word of God and strive to perceive everything through Christ and His Redemption. The Apostle Paul wrote extensively on Christin Liberty. In Romans 14 we read,”For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him…..One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks….I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean by itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean….”

      Also, in Hebrews 3 and 4 it talks about those who believe enter into God’s rest of which the Sabbath was a prophecy. It further explains that we come into that rest by believing and by listening to the Lord. We can do that any day and any time for Jesus is our Sabbath Rest.

      For our family, we choose to take Sundays as a day of rest and worship. However, if one has to work on Sundays (and sometimes this is inevitable. Aren’t you glad that doctors, ambulance drivers, firefighters or even the waitress at the restaurant where you eat after church are working on the “Sabbath”?) they can choose to observe Saturday or Monday as their Sabbath. They must just take time to rest and to acknowledge the Lord. Jesus has fulfilled the Sabbath making every day holy to Himself.

      We’ll be writing further about how our two families have chosen to observe a Sabbath Day and we hope you’ll stay tuned. Thank you again for chiming in! God bless you, Sister!

      • michelle - August 3, 2012

        Daja, thank you so very kindly for your reply, it is so wonderful to see the maturity we have in Jesus Christ that we can converse responsibly, lovingly, with a mutual passion for Christ, while realizing the reason for this message is for edification and not judging(as the Father has instructed me respond to your post), as your response really is directly to God and not me (I am just the vessel the Father has chosen to use). I want to thank you for the beautiful post and pictues, they are wonderful, and God definitely sees your passion, desire and willingness to be obedient to His words and He desires to draw you nearer to Him, but cannot take you to that next spiritual level He wishes for you because your interpertation of the scriptures does not agree with His Word because Jesus said “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, that until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19; “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out wether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” John 7:16-19, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law adn the Prophets hand on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (also stated in Deut. 6:5, Joshua 22:5, Ex 20:6, and Lev 19:18 – Jesus is not stating anything new the Law given was the Law of Love, God’s heart (in Aramaic/paleo Hebrew) is what the Law/Torah-Hebrew/Nomos-Greek/Divine instructions for living means strongs #H8451 and #G3551); “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather it is the Father living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themsleves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” John 14:9-12 and “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24 So in conclusion, NO ONE changed the Sabbath to Sunday, not Jesus, not God, not Paul, not John, NO ONE. Yes Jesus said in Matthew chp 12 to do works of the Father; compassion, mercy, helping the poor, widow, oppressed, needy, hungry, those in prision, etc. (we have helped at food shelters on the Sabbath before) But that does not change the day of Rest. and Yes Jesus is our eternal Rest-as you stated in Hebrews (Amen for that, Glory in the Heavens, all Glory to God) but that still doesn’t change that Fri. sundown to Sat. sundown is the Sabbath. You can not change the day, you should worship the Lord everyday but there is only ONE day He santificed as Holy for coming together in Holy Convocation and Rest and that is the Sabbath. Let us remember “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12. We must put on the FULL armor of God, not just salvation, but truth, righteousness (strongs #H6662-Sadiq/Tzadik,#G1342-Dikaios, just, upright, observing divine laws), gopel of peace/good news, faith, salvation, word of God, and prayer to be fully equipped to take stand against the devils schemes (Eph.6:13-18 & 6:10-11) and last but not least Romans speaks of those who are new to the faith in Messiah and are not sure wether to eat meat that they are not sure wether or not has been sacrificed to pagan gods (because all meat was sold in the market place) so Paul tells them if they are so worried about it then to not eat it because their faith is new “weak”, but those who were more mature in Christ could do so because they knew what meat God had called clean to eat and they would pray for blessings on it because they were eating out of faith that it had not been sacrificed to pagan gods. The passage pertaining to one day more special to another refers to different days of fasting that one sect of judiaism considered their “special” day of fasting compared to another day of fasting that another sect of judaism considered “special” as well as those who didn’t fast at all, that if you were doing it to the Lord then do it, but this passage does NOT in any way give permission to change the Sabbath day to whatever day we choose, For Paul says “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradtition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:15; “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s command is what counts.” 1Corinthians 7:18 (also stated in Gal 5:6 showing that having Faith in Jesus and love is synomonous with keeping God’s commands). The diciples/apostles were not preaching/teaching anything other than what Jesus preached/taught. Jesus even said “Remember the words I spoke to you; No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do no know the one who sent me.” John 16:20-21, Paul never taught anything contrary to Jesus or God the Father, he taught that we were free from the pentalty of the Law, not the obedience of the Law thru faith in Jesus. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: By loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for god: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” 1 John 5:1-3, and “Do we nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” Romans 3:31 It is important to remember when reading the NT that when we read about Righteousness/Law we must first put it into context of the 1st century Hebrew/Hebrew church (nothing like our modern greco/roman/greek/orthodox/modern christian meanings that we read into the scriptures – rather than reading them as God intended and also realize that the NT had not been cannized at the time and any references to scriptures means to refer to the OT – even the verse “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (which is shown throughout scripture to mean keeping God’s laws)so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16 is referring to the OT. In order to define the NT one must know the OT and refer to the OT. The saying goes the OT is the NT concealed and the NT is the OT revealed. Almost every scripture spoken has already been spoken in the OT, it is soo awesome. Last thought (sorry to have made this lengthy but am only writting what God has put in my heart as a message to you from Him) that when studying the NT you must define wether the reference in the scriptures to law means Torah Law (God’s Law), Jewish Oral Law and Customs (Mans traditions or rules/regulations/laws/Ordinances added around God’s laws creating “fences” around God’s laws, or if it is referencing the law of sin and death. I too thought the way you did with the scriptures, but Praise be to the Father! He has taken the veil off my eyes and let me see and I am sooo greatful that the Full meaning of Christ and the Bible has finally come to it fullness as God intended. I will be praying for you. Please do not post this as public unless you feel it can edify someone else as this is to you from God. This will be my last response as I do not feel any further leading from the Holy Spirit to write (He desires for you to pray, fast, and study in His word for revelation and knowledge, He knows what plans He has for you – so exciting!) I do not judge, I have a multitude of sins of my own that the Father shows me every day and all I can say is Halleujah, Praise Jesus/Yeshua (His God given name at birth – read the preface of your Bible) that I am covered by the blood of the Lamb, can repent and be forgiven, and continue in my walk to be in closer relationship with the Father thru faith in Jesus Christ and keeping His commandments which I find a joy. All scripture quoted came from the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. God’s peace be with you, I love you my sister in Chirst.

  3. Absolutely love these ideas and am a huge fan of Nancy Campbell!
    On a different note, wondering if you have some tips for getting prepared (food wise) for a new baby.

    • Ooooo, now there’s a good topic! I’ve written on that in the past, but not on this blog. I will find it and post it in the next day or two! Thanks for the great post suggestion!

  4. Cathi Murphy - August 1, 2012

    Thanks for the beautiful post. Do you wash the dishes after your Sabbath meal or leave them until Sabbath is over?

    • I actually do not wash them! *gasp* We all neatly stack the dishes so that they are not overflowing the kitchen and we have a dish washing extravaganza the next day! LOL!

  5. Oh, I can’t tell you how I love this! A couple of years ago I started being more intentional about how I celebrate the Sabbath, and have incorporated some of the same ideas you have here. I’d love to start doing the Shabbat blessings and such as is done by the Jewish woman of the house. It’s more difficult for me, being a single mom with mostly teenage kids, but I am determined;-)

    • I think you can most certainly institute the blessings with your kids! Have the kids take turns reading Proverbs 31 at your Sabbath meal. After all, it’s not only her husband who praises her, her children also rise up and call her blessed! And you can speak a blessing and encouragement over the children after that. What a lovely way to mark the end of a week–speaking life and blessings in the home!

  6. Gemma - August 1, 2012

    What a great article. I feel some people may get confused though – the Sabbath or shabbat is Saturday (Friday evening at sundown to Saturday evening at sundown) not Sunday. Sunday rest and worship is instituted by the Church. Sabbath rest is commanded by our Heavenly Father. May He Bless your day.

    • Yes, Shabbat is Friday evening. However, we have readers from so many religious and denominational traditions. The important aspect we’d like to stress is that we take time to rest and honor our families and the Lord. We explain that a bit here: http://theprovisionroom.com/2012/07/26/a-sabbath/

      God bless your day!

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